Saturday, December 29, 2007

Cinnamon, The Silent Killer

(this photo is of the Wakhan Valley on the border between Tajikistan and Afghanistan...the snow capped mountains you see are in Afghanistan.)

I've taken the entire day off and feel as if I haven't accomplished a thing! I've looked at about 3000 pictures of places in the Middle East and read country profiles on most countries that I'd like to visit in the Middle East, but that's about it (oh and took a 3 hour nap). You're probably wondering...the Middle East? Okay so I've changed my route around somewhat from what it was before:

Less of Europe, only Iceland, Ireland, Scotland, England, Wales, Poland, and Ukraine.

Then into Russia, overland through Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, and Tajikistan, Mongolia and then down through China.

Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Malaysia, Thailand, Burma, India, Nepal, Oman, Yemen, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Israel, Syria (of course all the while avoiding an Israeli passport Syria and a few other countries dislike proof that you've been to Israel, so much they'll reject you from entering their country). Iran (possibility, I know your thinking I'm crazy but apparently it's quite safe (I'm trying to leave aside my preconceptions and go with an open mind)), then to Turkey, Egypt, Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Mozambique (scuba!), Zimbabwe, Botswana, South Africa then home.

Don't doubt that this itinerary will change again, it will! haha I'm learning more and more about these countries, what they have to offer, safety, etc.. everyday from sites and people who've been, so don't be suprised when it changes.

Anyways! This itinerary makes me happy! I really want to see the biblical/historical sites the ME has to offer and I want to volunteer at Nakuru Orphanage in Kenya. More volunteer stops along the way are a possibility as is the possibility of me somehow getting over to NZ, a friends recent trip there (photos/experiences) has nearly persuaded me into going.

You are all probably wondering why I want to skip so much of Europe, Australia, and South America....I'd like to save some of the world for future trips (no I don't plan on stopping after this one). I'd like to do Europe as a seperate trip all together as well as SA and Aussie. I'd like to walk the Santiago De Compostela in Spain and France as part of a seperate trip to Europe later in the future.

Europe is also extremely expensive in comparison to Africa, SE Asia and the ME, as I will be on a major budget on this trip I'd like to see as much as possible for as cheap as possible.

As for cinnamon being the silent killer....I attempted to eat a teaspoon of cinnamon on Thursday as part of a dare with some friends....bad...bad idea. I am I can't breathe through my nose and cinnamon is dry so it clogs up your airway/esophagus so needless to say it sucked. Couldn't breathe so I had to spit it all out, all the while it's coming out of my nose and wouldn't have been suprised if it wasn't coming out of my eyes and ears as well, I didn't know what was happening! haha. I was a sight to see let me tell ya. Don't ever think for one minute after watching a You Tube video of a full grown man spitting the crap out 'cause he was unable to do it...that he is a pussy and that you can accomplish what he couldn' probably can't. At least I tried though and now I know.

Oh and I get to see the Trans-Siberian Orchestra tomorrow!! Thanks to Clint and CJ!!! I'm so excited, I am going with them and Dusty! YAY! =) Lucky me!!!

Hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas!!! I got money for Christmas that went directly into my savings account (oh and to towards a few new books!....and a sweater and tobogan from Free People clothing! =) )

Namaste my friends, more details on the trip to come soon, I promise.

(the Wakhan valley again below.)

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Merry Christmas!

Hello everyone, I just wanted to wish you a very Merry Christmas.

Church was incredible today! Brought tears to my eyes. Everyone lit candles as the lights were turned off and sang Silent Night, it was beautiful!!! I bought Ring The Bells today, the CD (see to the right, the music is playing and there is a link to where you can buy the CD), all proceeds go to African Missions. I just bought 3 more copies online to send to family members. It's an incredible CD. The church I go to, Fellowship Bible went to Africa and have incorporated the sounds of Africa along with the voices of regular worship leaders from our church creating an amazing CD that'll inspire you and definitely get you into the Christmas spirit.

"And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch of their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will for all the people.Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord." ~Luke 2:8-11

I hope everyone has a wonderful Christmas.

In his name with undefended love.

Monday, December 17, 2007


Sorry I didn't write my daily Sunday blog everyone! I've been, well, swamped! I've had so much to do this week, between work, church, Christmas parties, present buying and sleep (what little I could manage to get), I've been unable to sit down to work out a good blog. It's been a good week, I was able to get in a lot of work and make a lot of money (which is going going gone...thank you Christmas). I was only able to get 30 minutes of sleep on Saturday night, on Sunday I had church (which was great, might I add, Lloyd Shadrach spoke and he is so animated and inspirational!), after church I went to a community bible study group lunch (yum, CJ catered with Cracker Barrel!), met a lot of new, really nice people! Sunday evening I managed to fall asleep watching The Clockwork Orange (disturbing but artistically amazing). This week I have 2 parties to go to, 3 days of work and then I leave for Kentucky on Saturday (then comes Christmas stuff and work)! *sigh* Well I'm off again to a Christmas party. I promise I'll try to find some time to sit and write, hopefully this week. Much Love and Namaste my friends.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Eager Feet

(thanks again to sol for the visual aid!)

“Tell your heart that the fear of suffering is worse than the suffering itself. And no heart has ever suffered when it goes in search of its dream.” -"The Alchemist" Paulo Coelho

So as I continue to plan and learn new things everyday I'm conceptualizing or envisioning what this impending "new face of reality" will be like once the time comes (when I set off). As I move along (at a brisk pace...I put my car up for sale yesterday! I paid all $3,000 in tuition for school this week, I start on Jan. 14th!!!), I'm starting to realize what it's going to take from me to both make this trip a reality and make it through the actual trip, here's what I've come up with:

Passion: I've always struggled with being able to stay focused on one dream (I have so many!) and in turn enabling it to come true. If things go as planned then my passion will remain strong and further be fueled to make this dream a reality.

“I can't change the direction of the wind, but I can adjust my sails to always reach my destination.” - Jimmy Dean

Courage: To be strong, stay strong and not let my fears get the best of me.

"Pitiful is the person who is afraid of taking risks. Perhaps this person will never be disappointed or disillusioned; perhaps she wont suffer the way people do when thay have a dream to follow. But when that person looks back - and at some point everyone looks back - she will hear her heart saying," "What have you done with the miracles of God planted in your days? What have you done with the talents God have bestowed on you? You buried yourself in a cave because you were fearful of losing those talents. So this is you heritage: the certainty that you wasted your life."
"Pitiful are the people who must realize this." "Because when they are finally able to believe in miracles, their life's magic moments will have already passed them by."
- Paulo Coelho

Endurance: Waking up everyday with the intentions to make my dream come true and knowing that all obstacles are transitory on the road to my rainbow.

"The universe always helps us fight for our dreams, no matter how foolish they may be. Our dreams are our own, and only we can know the effort required to keep them alive."
- "By The River Piedra, I Sat Down & Wept" Paulo Coelho

Independence: Remain independent, allow myself only to focus on my life and how I can be a better and more generous person. The only relationship I want is one with myself and God as far as matters of the heart go. I too often let love keep me from pursuing my destiny, recently I've come to the realization that if love causes me to abandon my destiny then it was never true love.

"All deep, earnest thinking is but the intrepid effort of the soul to keep the open independence of her sea; while the wildest winds of heaven and earth conspire to cast her on the treacherous, slavish shore." - Herman Melville

Self-Dependency: Though I know I must have some sense of this before I go, I know that along the way this will strengthen and solidify.

"You might find yourself adverse to old ideas of finding someone else to “complete yourself" and instead find a new passionate relationship with life that fills an emptiness that you may have once misidentified." - Sol

Everyday God gives us the sun - and also one moment in which we have the ability to change everything that makes us unhappy. Every day, we try to pretend that we haven't perceived that moment, that it doesn't exist - that today is the same as yesterday and will be the same as tomorrow. But if people really pay attention to their everyday lives, they will discover that magic moment. It may arrive in the instant when we are doing something mundane, like putting our front-door key in the lock; it may lie hidden in the quiet that follows the lunch hour or in the thousand and one things that all seem the same to us. But that moment exists - a moment when all the power of the stars becomes a part of us and enables us to perform miracles.

Joy is sometimes a blessing, but it is often a conquest. Our magic moment helps us to change and sends us off in search of our dreams. Yes, we are going to suffer, we will have difficult times, and we will experience many disappointments - but all of this is transitory; it leaves no permanent mark. And one day we will look back with pride and faith at the journey we have taken.

I feel like right now I am totally surrounded by inspiration, it's in the books I read, the travelouges I come across, the friends surrounding me, the family I love so much, it's in the words, actions, and emotions of those new people I meet or chance upon and even in those I know so well. It's pouring from the heavans above. I feel so blessed and am so thankful for everything in my life and hope that I can learn, be further inspired, and experience new things through travel and use that knowledge, inspiration and experience to help others.

Namaste my friends (I honor the Spirit in you which is also in me).

(Now, off to plan while I conquer the largest mug of hot tea ever made!!! *smile*)

P.S. Oh yeah and a small cheer for Dusty and I, we completed Discovery 2 (somewhat of a membership program about the church covering topics such as worship, community, growth, service, and generosity that lasted 4 weeks). YAY for us! Go Fellowship Bible!!!

Animals are wonderful.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

The Alchemist

"The universe always conspires to help the dreamer." -"The Alchemist" Paulo Coelho

(thank you to Sol for the photo and inspiration)

So today after church I put my nose to the grind and began researching ticket prices for flights between overland travel to supplement my appending trip around the globe. I went to BootsNall which took me to AirTreks where I provided them with locations in which I plan to fly to in between my travel by bus/rail/car/foot/tuk tuk/camel/donkey/the list goes on....

Here is the itinerary I plugged in (the numbered items are the flights I plugged in, I'm not being charged of course for overland travel, I put those add-on approximated costs in {braces}).

Itinerary as of the present time (subject to change, most likely will)

1. Nashville, TN, USA > London, England (Gatwick)

London, England > Singapore :

-[overland by Eurail (Eurail Global Pass - 1 month) visiting Netherlands, Germany, Switzerland, Austria, Czech Republic, Poland, and Ukraine to Moscow (via rail from Kiev kupeyny and platskart {$70}] {add on approx. $718}

-[overland by Trans-Mongolian Railway, Moscow to Beijing - 26 days, see itinerary {add on approx. $2,870}

-[overland through China via bus/rail] {currently unestimated cost, details to come in future}

-[overland through Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Thailand, Malaysia to Singapore via bus/rail/boat/light aircraft] {currently unestimated cost, details to come in future}

2. Singapore > Kuching, Malaysia

3. Kuching, Malaysia > Bangkok, Thailand

Bangkok, Thailand > New Delhi, India:

-[overland through Burma (Myanmar) via tour bus/car (country insists on travelers being accompanied at almost all times, the only way an American citizen can enter the country is if they are part of a tour and with a visa...unless entering illegally....the consulate wouldn't like that.)] {currently costs are uncalculated, details to come}

-[overland through Bangladesh, into Nepal and Tibet to India (possible side trip to Bhutan depending on whether or not I can find a cheap package tour and aquire a visa as they are both requirements), Annapurna Base Camp trek (14 days $80), Everest Base Camp trek (15 days about with acclimatization $102 for flight to Lukla from Kathmandu via Yeti Airlines, 13 day trek paying guide $8 a day from Lukla to Everest Base Camp, accomodation is included in guides fee)]

4. New Delhi, India > Nairobi, Kenya

Nairobi, Kenya > Rome, Italy:

-[overland through Kenya, Tanzania, Zambia, D.R. Congo and Sudan to Egypt via bus/car] {costs uncalculated, details to come}

-[overland/sea through Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Cyprus, Turkey by boat/bus/car {cost uncalculated, details to come}]

-[overland to Greece and oversea from Athens, Greece to Brindisi, Italy, overland to Rome (visit to Vatican City) {boat via Hellenic Mediterranean Lines (seat only) from Athens (Patras) to Brindisi, Italy $71, with %20 discount with Eurail card, other overland costs not yet estimated}]

5. Rome, Italy > Madrid, Spain:

Madrid, Spain > Paris, France:

-[overland through France via Eurail Regional Pass {about $233}

6. Paris, France > Nashville, TN, USA

The total costs for all the main flights is approx. $3,000, which is incredibly cheap considering a flight from Nashville to Sydney, Australia in itself if buying from Orbitz, Travelocity or Expedia is $2,000.

NOTE: This cost is not including all of the costs in braces and is not including such things as money needed for visas, accomodation, overland travel, food, etc.

"There is a vitality, a life force, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all of time, this expression is unique. And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and will be lost. The world will not have it. Keep the channel open, follow your heart, and everything else will take care of itself."
-Martha Graham to Agnes Demille

Visa Costs

Bangladesh: $50
Bhutan: $70
Burma (Myanmar): $20 + proof of package tour
Cambodia: $20
China: $100
Congo (Democratic Republic of): $75 + yellow fever vaccine
Egypt: $15
India: $30
Jordan: $14
Kenya: $50 ($20 possibly can get transit visa for $20)
Laos: $30
Mongolia: $25 (traveling through via Trans-Mongolian Railway)
Nepal: $30
Russia: $30
Sudan: $150
Tanzania: $50
Tibet: (counts as Chinese visa, might have to pay extra to extend time on
visa because I'm visiting Tibet months after China)
Turkey: $20
Vietnam: $50 (from Kunming, China)
Zambia: $100 + yellow fever vaccine

Total: $929 in visa fees (Ugh! Subject to change!)

Earth my Body

Water my Blood

Air my Breath

Fire my Spirit

Travel Insurance

World Nomads Travel Insurance: $240 (per 6 months of travel)

Emergency Medical & Dental USD $50,000
Provides benefits for
emergency medical and dental expenses you incur within the date of your policy.
Services must be provided by a licensed provider and must take place during your
trip. A $100 deductible applies to outpatient care. There is a $500 maximum on
all covered dental expenses.
Emergency Medical Evacuation USD
Pays for emergency medical transportation services, authorized in
advance and organized by the World Access Hotline Center, and medically required
as a result of an injury or illness which occurs during the coverage period, to
have you moved to the nearest appropriate facility. Once you are able, we will
also pay to have you returned home.
Travel Accident USD $10,000
lump sum coverage for death and serious dismemberment directly resulting from a
covered Accident. The loss must occur within 365 days of the covered
Baggage USD $2,500
Provides benefits for loss, damage or theft
of baggage and personal effects provided you have taken all reasonable measures
to protect, save and/or recover your property. Coverage is secondary to coverage
provided by a common carrier.
Sporting Equipment USD $1,000
coverage for specialist sporting equipment due to loss or damage by a common
carrier or theft of equipment during the trip.
Trip Cancellation or
interruption USD $1,000
Provides financial protection for expenses related to
trip cancellation or trip interruption caused by a covered event. Trip
cancellation provides reimbursement for prepaid, non-refundable expenses, up to
the amount of coverage.
Trip interruption coverage provides reimbursement
for the unused, non-refundable portion of your trip and increased transportation
costs for you to return home following a loss caused by a covered event.
Some examples of covered events are:
* Illness, injury or death of you,
a covered family member or traveling companion.
* Strikes, natural disasters
or bad weather that result in the complete cessation of services by an airline,
tour operator or cruise line for at least 24 hours.
* Employer termination
if you have been with the same employer for at least three continuous years, and
are terminated through no fault of your own after the effective date of this
* You or a Traveling Companion being directly involved in a
traffic Accident while directly en route to a departure

Okay so whaddaya think? Keep in mind that these are all just small steps in the hundreds of miles I still have to cover in planning. These are ballpark figures, as I have yet to set the dates and amount of time I plan to spend in each country the estimated amount of my ticket costs will change slightly (I expect between $2,900-$3,500). Visa prices for some countries may change or even become impossible to get (the price I pay for being an American *wink wink*, but Bush will be out of office before long so my country options may expand hahaha) before travel time comes. The insurance price will definitely change as they only allowed me to put my dates of travel as next year, very unlikely if not impossible.

"...whoever you are, whatever it is that you do, when you really want something, it's because that desire originated in the soul of the universe. It's your mission on earth. To realize one's Personal Legend is a person's only real obligation." - "The Alchemist" Paulo Coelho

"Furthermore, we have not even to risk the adventure alone; for the heroes of all time have gone before us; the labyrinth is thoroughly known; we have only to follow the thread of the hero-path. And where we had thought to find an abomination, we shall find a god; where we had thought to slay another, we shall slay ourselves; where we had thought to travel outward, we shall come to the center of our own existence; where we had thought to be alone, we shall be with all the world.” -"Hero With A Thousand Faces" Joseph Campbell

Oh yeah and.....

....puppies like chocolate cake too! (This is Luke).

Sunday, November 25, 2007


So as I sit and wait for time to go by (and pray for a flux capacitor to fall from the sky and 1.21 gigawatts of electricity supplied by a plutonium-powered nuclear reactor or simply a bolt of lightning to power my 2005 Hyundai Tiburon into the future), I've decided to begin my blog.
What it's gonna be about you say?
Oh, well as some of you may know back in 2003 I came up with the grand idea to take a trip around the world for one year, with only a backpack (contents of course being limited), some fine boots, and $20,000....and as some of you may know, that never worked out.
Being only 18, in a relationship, and going to school full-time I let my fears conquer my passion and drive towards this goal. With the $15,000 I had saved up I purchased a new vehicle (see above), went shopping, and continued to go to school. Here I am 4 years later, 4 years older, after numerous breaks from school and recovering from a head first plunge into credit card debt ready to achieve my one-time goal once again.

I've learned a lot in the past 4 years and feel that these lessons are what will propel me to succeed at my dream of long-term travel.

-Debt is horrible, it's a terrible feeling to go to work everyday knowing that every dime you make that day is already spent.
-Clothes are not a necessity, okay so they are (see Genesis 1.26-27), but in moderation.
-I'd much rather spend $4 on wooden hut on a beach in Koh Samui than $4 on a Starbucks Grande White Chocolate Mocha.
-Changing everything about yourself, your life, your plans, and your dreams to be temporarily happy and not alone (aka in a bad relationship) are not where it's at.
-Saying "I'll do that another time" or "one day" translates to "I'll probably never do that because I do not have the courage, self-confidence, nor trust in myself to accomplish that." That can apply to cleaning your room or traveling the world.
-I'm not getting any younger.
-I'm not getting older any faster (see above on relationships). I've always been in a hurry to get a career, become part of a cube-farm, meet that person, get married, and have children....pledging to be an eternal (or at least until retirement, hoover rounds don't make it on the Annapurna 3-week circuit) member of the rat race. When in all actuality I should be living my dreams and most likely on my road to self-actualization will I fall into the perfect career, meet that person, get married, have children and still not pledge to be an eternal member of the rat race (not I! I say).
-The fears will always be there but I will not let them be so strong as to overcome my will or want to succeed in accomplishing my dreams.
"I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain"
-There are millions of other people in this world, a million more potential best friends, inspirations, loves, experiences to learn from, and wise words to hear.
-I've always kept up with the blogs of other people traveling around the world, living precariously per se, through them when in reality I can easily be doing the same thing, accomplishing, and learning a lot more than sitting here in swivel chair in front of this bright screen getting carpal tunnel.

....and here I am, with no idea (well 194 countries of ideas) of where to go, little money, a car payment, a year and a half of school left and this dream. After much tossing and turning, swivelling, reading, driving, and googling....I have some sort of plan. I've not spoken to anyone about my plan, I've kept it to myself for reasons of fine tuning (of which I still have a lot to do) in hopes that the more 'real' (believable) it sounds the less people will laugh at me about it. I can't hold it in any longer, I need the feedback of my close friends, net friends, and family to make this plan a reality. Here's my plan or plans if you will, I'm unsure as of which path to take to achieve my dream:

1. Start back to school (already have my classes chosen and school loan approved for Jan. 2008 at MTSU), finish with an English degree (French/Psychology minor) in 1 and a half years.

~Pros: A degree, can easily get a temp job overseas or possibly even permenant job teaching English for extra money. A degree.

~Cons: School loans, less time to work to save money, gas money driving to and from school (a good 30 mile drive), long time before departure.

2. Start back to school, work and save money as best can, when I have enough, degree or no degree leave on my trip.

~Pros: Shorter amount of time before lift-off, some schooling out of the way.

~Cons: No degree, school loans lingering upon return, less time to work and save money.

3. Work, just go to work full-time saving money, no school.

~Pros: Leave sooner, more money saved in shorter amount of time, no school loans.

~Cons: No degree.

Those are my plans and the lists of pros and cons for each plan I've compiled. What do you think?
And so here I am, with a very unclear plan not really knowing where I am going, putting my faith in life to guide me. My courage is sometimes high, sometimes low, but one thing is certain, I want a world in which I can feel and experience the every day reality. The world is so much more complex than what we could ever comprehend. In order to reach a glimpse of that reality level, we must let go of control and detach ourselves from what we consider our reality. I want this new world to be how I remembered my first day at school, my first kiss, my first love, the first time I put on ice skates, the first time I traveled to a world unknown by me, and basically, any first time I did something. Only then was my mind pure, untouched by too many concepts, unbiased. I want to remember this child naivety, this state of consciousness where there is only us, not all of our fears and expectations taking all the place.
Only at the end of this road will I know for certain what I came here to find, but the fun and personal growth are acquired by walking the path, they are not in the final step or in the final answer. May I be able to access and understand my reality and mold it's impact on me as I go, enabling me to be my own creator.